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A nuclear explosion kills thousands, contaminates Connecticut, and threatens to blanket New York in radioactivity; but much of this anti-nuclear polemic is so nonsensical, with such inane dialogue, that the effect is more comic (when it isn't just dull) than harrowing. Sidar takes us to Connecticut's Dorset Pilgrim nuclear power plant--where, as workers wonder why a turbine trip has not led to automatic scram (power cutback), the reactor explodes. Aside from occasional suggestions of suspected sabotage, the rest of the story centers on the chaotic evacuation as residents leave the area; and here incredulity sets in with a vengeance despite the heaping-up of plausibly authentic nuclear data. New Haven reporter Dan Coulter (Yale '73), hearing that thousands of evacuees are on their way and setting up a decontamination operation at the Yale Bowl, uses Yale's sports teams to run showers, etc. (""Do we have pencils, paper? Plenty of soap? Somebody get the towels""). And while Coulter showers his vomiting hordes--also directing a move indoors and a helicopter evacuation--President Carter plans a TV statement (""We cannot take any action against the aggressors unless we find out who they are""). Finally hospitalized Coulter learns that mechanical failure--not sabotage--is now suspected of causing the explosion, so he decides to go home and write one last story (""I've got a lot to say and I want to say it""). Mention of current officials, Three Mile Island, and China Syndrome may provide surface timeliness, and the anti-nuclear message is hard to argue with; but concerned readers will surely prefer the various non-fiction alternatives to this unimaginative yet cartoon-y fictionalization.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1980
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap